Another week has whizzed by. I don’t believe it either.
This week’s prompt is …rope… + up to only 1,000 words
For details, check out http://rachaelritchey.com/blogbattle/
To Plant a Rose
Stubborn as cement, the clay refused to budge. Stella stamped her feet. In minutes, trails of perspiration had invaded uninvited places all over her body. Smacking the spade to the ground, she swiped her dripping brow, fascinated with the moisture collected there, then rubbed it against her shorts. Why does this have to be so hard? Either it rains buckets or doesn’t rain at all.
“What are you doing?”
Stella jerked to attention with a yelp, short of tripping over the shovel. “You’re awake.” She flicked an eye over her husband, The Mathematician, clad in slippers and ratty bathrobe, and flinched. At least he’d poured himself a coffee.
“What are you doing?” It’s hot already.” He tightened the belt of his robe, but exposed his salt and pepper chest.
“I need to plant this rose before it dries up…”
“So what’s the problem? Let me.” As her husband advanced on her, Stella shuffled backwards, eyes blinking, a hand to her throat. He drove the spade into the ground with surprising force, but it ricocheted out of his hands. The handle shot into his face. He growled and back-peddled, a hand to his cheek. “Forget it. Can’t be done.”
Stella covered her mouth and nose stifling overpowering giggles. “Maybe we’ll have more success if you tried a foot farther down on either side, or behind.”
The Mathematician rubbed tender hands together, which had never met a blister, now as red as his face. An engorged vein in his neck pulsed and appeared on the verge of exploding. He flicked sweat out of his eyes. “It’s too hot. I’m taking a shower.” He tightened the belt of his robe and shuffled down the driveway like an old man.
Stella smirked. I wonder why he thought to help today? His hands have only known a pencil at worst, or his computer at best. She bent to wipe her forehead with her t-shirt. Hair soaked through, she shook it hard, then picked up the shovel. One more try. This time the spade slipped into the earth with less resistance, though only half-way down the blade. She wrinkled her nose at the sour smell of the clay and repositioned a couple scoops of earth. Her third swing hit rock and bounced back in her hands. Ow! On her knees she felt with her hands for the rock to judge its size. “Too big to dig out.”
“Kinda hot isn’t it? Want some help?” The neighbor’s son on the far side leaned against the stone wall, which separated their backyards. Shaded by their cherry tree, he readjusted the red baseball cap he wore backwards.
“Hi, George. I think I’ll go in for a while. It’s hotter than an inferno, isn’t it?”
He wiggled his wiry black uni-brow. “I can loosen some of that clay with my steel spike. I’ll be right over.”
Stella wiped her face with her t-shirt again and wrung it out, sunk deeper over her heels. The 20-something neighbor’s son ambled up the driveway with what appeared an old-fashioned spear. “Show me where.” His cheeks dimpled as he smiled down at her.
Stella explained about the rock. “Anywhere here, either farther left or right. At least a foot deep and about eighteen inches wide.
George poked the ground looking for a soft spot. He stopped and cocked his head.
“What?” She reared up then, her brow pleated.
“I hit something. Feels weird.” He grabbed the spade and worked fast. Green plastic, like the corner of a garbage bag, poked out of the dirt. They gawked at each other. George scraped at the dirt by layers, but the handle slipped and the point ripped through the plastic. A putrid odor wrapped itself around them. They saw the rope wrapped around the garbage bag. “I think we need to call the police.” He stumbled away from the suffocating stench.
“What do you think it is?” Stella’s voice quaked.
“Don’t know.” George’s face and ears flushed crimson, his forehead glistened with dripping sweat, t-shirt soaked through. “Doesn’t look good.”
“Pull up a chair. I’ll make the call and bring out some lemonade.”
He sank into a lounge chair, and flung the spade to the ground.
* * *
They’d moved their chairs deeper into the garden. The cherry tree provided little shade now; the garage provided little more. Each slurped lemonade as the ice melted in the jug. Fifty-three minutes after the call, a lone officer ambled into the backyard. The cavity in the garden grabbed his attention. He passed beneath the arbor and the reek from the hole slapped him in the face.
Stella and George sprang up, her husband’s face a putrid green, rose slower. Everyone talked at once and then stopped. Stella told her story, ran out of breath, and George finished.
“What do you suppose it is?” She led the way to the hole, but stayed back from the smell and covered her nose.
The policeman, hands behind his back didn’t move any closer either. “Don’t worry. It’s not human remains. The odour is sweet like an animal, probably a dog.”
“You’re sure? Why bind the bag with rope?”
“Didn’t want to hold it, maybe.”
“What do we do with it? Will you take it away?”
“Me? Oh no. Call animal control or put it out for trash pickup.” He took out his notebook and pen, tipped his cap and was gone.
“The Mathematician found his voice. “I’m not touching that thing. Call animal control. I’m going inside.”
“I’ll throw more dirt on the hole to keep nosy animals away and cover the reek.”
Stella nodded. Thanks, George. All I wanted was to plant a rose. Creepy. Hope the cop is right and it’s not human remains.”
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